I know that I speak a lot about travel on this blog. From travelling tips with your significant other to managing time in airports or on long haul flights, but one thing that I have forgotten to mention about travelling is the visas. The most important part of travel, and yet it somehow seems to slip my mind about its importance. Visas are crucial to travel because unless you have a very powerful passport, you most likely will need a visa to enter and spend time in another country. The only issue is that the process for getting a visa is long, intricate, usually very annoying and frustrating and can end up seeming to be more hassle than it’s worth. Getting a visa requires specific planning to ensure that you get it in time for your trip, but also to ensure that the process itself goes smoothly. I recently had to get a visa and let me tell you; I could not be more thankful that that is over! It was just so long, and frustrating and tiring, and the whole process was enough of a mission that I could only take a deep breath out when I walked out of the embassy, my visa request approved. Wheewww! However, after surviving that experience, I realised that throughout the process, there are ways to make things go a lot smoother. By doing certain small things, things that help you get organised and make the process easier, it will make your life easier, because all you then have to stress about is the appointment itself. So, if you are like me and find visas a very tiresome process, even though they are necessary, or you are about to get a visa for the first time … then here are ten tips for you that can help you get through your visa appointment and the process.
Book your appointment
Okay, so this is the very first thing that you need to do, and you need to get it done as soon as possible. Go online and make a booking for whichever visa you need. The entire process is usually online and relatively simple to follow; it just takes time. So, make sure that you give yourself enough time to get it done without interruptions. You will need information about your trip (where you are staying, if anyone is funding your trip etc.), so make sure you have that before you start the booking process. Otherwise, you will become more frustrated than necessary. Now all you have to do is sit down with your laptop and a beverage, and book your appointment. Once that is done, you are already far down the line of being prepared. Yay!
Make a list of everything you need
You might think that I am biased for always mentioning lists (and yes I know that I tend to be quite list obsessed), but I do not have this incurable addiction for no reason. Lists can be incredibly helpful when it comes to preparing for something, especially something as intricate as a visa appointment, so I highly suggest that you take out a piece of paper and make yourself a list. For all visas, the embassy will tell you precisely what you need for the appointment, but sometimes things are not always clear, or that the list is broken up and that may cause you to leave something out. By going through the requirements and writing a list yourself of everything that you need, you will know exactly what you need and be able to avoid forgetting something unnecessary.
Leave yourself time
The one thing that you can never overestimate when it comes to a visa is how much time it will take. The booking forms online takes some time to complete; there is sometimes quite a wait before you can actually get your appointment and you have to make sure to leave enough time after your appointment for them to process, produce and return your visa and passport. There are very few instances where you can speed up the process once you have had your appointment, and the sad truth is that you won’t be able to go on your trip if they haven’t returned your passport with your visa inside. So, take this from someone who has experienced the last minute anxiety of waiting for a visa and running out of time, make sure you give yourself plenty of time for your visa. That way, even if disaster strikes and there are delays, you are not sent into a spiral of panic and your trip won’t be compromised.
Print/find all documents
For those of you who are not familiar with embassies, you are not usually allowed any form of technology inside. So, this means that before you go for your appointment, you need to have every form (from the list that you made earlier) printed and ready to show them. Sometimes, you may also need to source documents from your travel agent or from the person who is sponsoring your trip and let me tell you that you cannot always do this in the space of 24 hours. Give yourself the luxury of being able to source all of those documents in good time and make sure that you then have everything printed out. If it isn’t in a printed, paper format then, unfortunately, it doesn’t count.
Get the right photos!
This is one of the most finicky parts of the visa process and yet often the most important. Every type of visa has different requirements. Some ask for your photo to be in a specific size; some want the background to be white, others will say that you need to bring six copies of the picture. Whatever the case may be, you need to make sure that you bring the right photo. An embassy can send you out, even when you have an appointment if your photos are incorrect. So triple check precisely what the photo requirements are for the visa you want, and make sure that you get them. Most shopping centres have places where you can get photos taken, so it isn’t a matter of not being able to get a photo. It is a matter of making sure that your photo is correct! Don’t let something as small as a photo be the reason you can’t get your visa.
More is better than less
I’m sure you are all familiar with the expression that ‘less is more’, but when it comes to visas, that is not the case. I always tend to make an extra copy of all the documents I need, in case they need an extra copy, or you want to keep a record of them. The other thing that you should do more of, not less (besides just more copies), is having more documents. Sometimes visa forms say that additional documents may be required. Do yourself a favour and make sure that you have all of these potentially required documents because, even though they say you may not need them, one of those forms could be the difference between getting your visa and being denied. I know that this means more printing and getting more documents ready, but if it means that you are extra prepared for your appointment and you have everything they could ask you for, then that means the process will be a lot smoother and less stressful for you. Doesn’t that sound worth the extra trouble?
Put everything together in a folder
The last thing you could want, more than anything else, is to have every document you need and then arrive at your appointment only to discover that you left two forms at home. That would just be a catastrophic disaster – and I would probably fall to the floor in agony and tears. To avoid this, gather everything that you need for your appointment (forms, your photos and your passport) and put it into a plastic folder. That way, you can be sure that everything you need, which you have ticked off from your list, is there and as long as you have that folder, you are all set for your appointment. Plus, it is just an easy way of keeping lots of documents together without worrying that one could have slipped out somewhere.
Get to your appointment early
As with anything important, it is always crucial for you to get there early and make sure that you leave your house with plenty of time. You do not want to miss your appointment because you overslept or got stuck in traffic, so make sure that you factor in how much time you will need to get to the specific embassy. The other thing you need to do is get to your appointment early. You could be in the same slot with ten other people, and there may be a long queue that you need to wait in before you even enter the building. By getting to your appointment early, you might also skip the queue, or you could finish your appointment earlier than expected. Nothing bad can come from arriving early, so even if it means sacrificing half an hour of sleep, I think that you should instead just bite the bullet and do it if it means that you could potentially finish early and avoid unnecessary stress.
Don’t fight them – just listen
Sometimes, the people you will deal with in the embassy can seem quite cold and emotionless, or they just might not be helpful. Don’t let this get to you. If they ask you for a million different documents, don’t argue with them that it wasn’t on their website (because you should have them if you followed tip 6) just hand it over. I know that it can be very frustrating dealing with people like that or just being in that situation, but if there is anything I have learnt from years of visa appointments, it is that you need to put your head down, don’t fight with them and just follow what they say. I know it can be annoying, but by doing this, you will be able to calm the frustrations and also get out with minimum issues. All you need to do is smile, and do what they say; everything else will follow and fall into place. Trust me.
Breathe, and just do it
If you have done everything listed above, then all you now need to do is take a deep breath in and complete your appointment. If you are organised, on time and follow what they say, you shouldn’t have any issues and the process should be smooth sailing. You are more than ready, so all you need to do is get through it and wait for your passport to return with your shiny new visa inside. Remember, they aren’t looking for reasons to deny you if you don’t give them those reasons, so breathe and know that everything will be just fine!
I know that everyone tends to have their own ways of getting ready for different appointments, but I do hope that you have not only enjoyed this post but have found it helpful and useful for when you make future visa appointments. I know that the visa process can seem very tiresome, believe me, I know, but I do hope that with these few tips the process can be made less tiresome and easier for you. Travelling is so fun and eye-opening, so don’t let the often annoying visa process put you off seeing the world. For my question of the day:
- If you could go anywhere in the world, no visa required, where would it be and why?
Thanks, as always for reading this post and supporting the blog. The continuous support from readers and followers doesn’t go unnoticed and so from the bottom of my heart, thank you! Please don’t forget to like this post if you haven’t already and subscribe so that you don’t miss out on any future posts! You guys are all amazing, and for those of you about to go through the visa process, I wish you the best of luck, but that is all for today from me.
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx